In 1993, it was sold as a Honda Passport in collaboration with Isuzu. That lasted about nine years. And now the midsize SUV is back, slotted perfectly between the compact CR-V and the full-size Honda Pilot. Though about an inch higher and six inches shorter than its bigger sibling, it shares the same engine, transmission, suspension, steering and wheelbase as the Pilot.
So the Passport gets a 3.5-liter V6 engine packing 280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 262 pounds-feet of torque @ 4,700 rpm. The top-level Elite was mated to a nine-speed auto transmission, which, when combined with the Variable Cylinder Management, operates in three or four cylinder modes for substantial fuel savings. For those who like to be in control of the gears, try the steering wheel paddle shifters for spirited driving.
Ensconced on the fully boxed structure is an aggressive blacked out grille and bar, bumper, door sash and liftgate garnish. LED headlight accents, tail lamps and chrome tips further enhance the overall bold appearance of the Passport. It is in the cabin that the midsize SUV shines with numerous bins and cubbies, some particularly cavernous, scattered throughout.
There also is a massive lift-up cargo hold that offers 2.5 cubic feet of space while passenger volume is a solid 114.9. The push-button shifter may take some getting used to for some. The eight-inch Intelligent MultiInformation Display (i-MID) shows information for the audio, revised navigation, Bluetooth, rearview camera, fuel economy, texting, compass, clock and more.
Other amenities include a tri-zone auto a/c, tilt/telescopic four-spoke leather steering wheel, second-row slide and recline 60/40 seat, sun shades, 10-way power driver and four-way front-passenger heated/cooled seats and power tailgate.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, front/rear crumple zones, side impact door beams, vehicle stability assist with traction control, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist (which maintains the ride in its path), hill start assist, blind-spot monitor, collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, multi-angle rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. These now include the safety technology that comes with Honda Sensing.
The midsize crossover field may be crowded, but if you want an athletic, attractive and exciting ride, opt for the Passport. Rest assured, you are safe and sound in the Elite trim with admirable on-road handling and off-road talent. Best of all, its generous passenger and cargo capacity will win over friends and family.
Test-drive the Elite and other Honda vehicles at Brandon Honda, located at 9209 E. Adamo Dr. in Tampa. Call 400-1685 or visit brandonhonda.com.